A year after fiscal deal, Colorado may owe taxpayer refunds

Looking north toward the Capitol from the top floor of the newly-completed Country Club Towers, Aug. 16, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Looking north toward the Capitol from the top floor of the newly-completed Country Club Towers, Aug. 16, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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By Brian Eason, Associated Press

Colorado is collecting so much money it may be required to send more than $200 million back to taxpayers over the next three years.

It’s a surprising turn from this time a year ago, when lawmakers cleared out room under the state revenue cap to avoid budget cuts. But unexpected budget growth has put Colorado back against the revenue limit.

A law passed in 2017 was supposed to prevent taxpayer refunds for years to come. According to the Colorado Legislative Council, the measure allowed lawmakers to spend an extra $560 million.

That’s money that otherwise would have been eliminated through cuts to state hospital funding or refunds to state taxpayers. Instead, it was spent on the state’s most pressing issues, such as roads, schools and the state pension.